Raf Simons to Replace Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent?

Looks from the spring 2012 Jil Sander collection, shown Saturday in Milan.

So suggests the sizzling lead of Suzy Menkes’ latest International Herald Tribune dispatch from the Milan runways. “If Raf Simons ultimately takes over the helm at Yves Saint Laurent—as those familiar with the situation in Paris suggest—the designer will have found a sweet spot for his meticulous modernism,” she wrote before showering praise on Simons’ spring 2012 Jil Sander collection, “a master class in couture rigor” inspired by midcentury modernism. Later in the article, Menkes noted that while Simons “was traveling back to his native Belgium and could not be reached for comment on the subject of YSL, he certainly has earned an audition for that position.”

The rumor adds PPR-owned YSL to a closely watched list of fashion houses whose creative helms may be up for a grabs. LVMH honcho Bernard Arnault and co’s decision about who will fill John Galliano‘s shoes (or pirate boots, as the case my be) at floundering Christian Dior is expected to set off a domino effect of designer moves, but Stefano Pilati, creative director at YSL since Tom Ford’s departure in 2004, wasn’t viewed as vulnerable—until now. In a statement issued this morning, YSL called the rumor of a Pilati ouster “unfounded,” but we think the deal may have been sealed by the spring 2011 collections. Last year at this time, Simons offered up the crisp, boldly colored, maxi-length breath of fresh air that set the tone for the season, while Pilati’s sublimely edited evolution of some of Saint Laurent’s greatest hits didn’t garner nearly as much acclaim (or, it would seem, sell-through).